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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Shocking Truth!

One Thing I Know:

Not Everyone Will Like Your Art.

Glass panels created by 2 glass blower friends, not fused glass artists--they didn't really "get it"...
This is the Shocking Truth!  It does not matter if you are Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Henry Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, or even Michelangelo...the truth is the truth.  Not everyone is going to like your artwork.  Some might even despise it and take mean or cruel actions to disparage or ruin your efforts and your sense of self. Others might just treat it in an offhand manner and make light of what you do--whether or not you are a "Master."  (See The Museum of Bad Art).

Ugly Glass Flowers made by glass blowers--not fused glass artists...eek!
As an artist, no matter what you are creating, it is highly personal to you.  It is a direct connection with your creative energy and life force.  Sometimes we are especially connected to an art piece and find it very hard to take when someone criticizes or does not care for the piece.  We might lash out and think, "what do they know?" And maybe they don't know you, don't know artwork, don't understand the processes.  Maybe they just have different preferences for color, technique, style and subject matter.  Maybe they have their own art agenda.  They may have specific ideas about art criticism.  

If you MUST criticize, please consider learning how to do a critique that has some teeth and isn't just an emotional reaction.  Here is a fabulous piece on Art Criticism: How to Critique a Work of Art by Trace Lowe.  Critique also leads to the question "what is art" and "what is good/bad art".  There is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

WTF? Watercolor gone bad?
As an artist, you cannot control the audience.  Perhaps for some artists any response to the art makes it a successful piece--if it is able to reach a visceral part of someone and cause a reaction--even if it is dislike. For other artists, it can be a very personal rapprochement to have a piece disliked.  It is, after all, an extension of self and by virtue of this, implies that they do not like you.  (Which may, or may not, be the case.)
It has potential to be art...but will it be ugly or "nice"?

It is vitally important as an artist to develop a thick skin. To be able to be in the same room or gallery space where your art is and to have it picked apart by others takes a bit of skill to endure.  But art is created to be seen and the artist cannot be constantly battering themselves because not everyone likes the artwork.  Nor does it do an artist or artwork (or the world at large for that matter) any good to hide out and keep the artwork closeted.

What I also know is that there is nothing that hurts so much as when we (our art) disappoints someone we care about, whose opinion is of great importance to us, and who we normally trust implicitly to have our back.  But, again, the shocking truth is that, even your dearest friend, family member or partner can not like your artwork.

I recently created several pieces of artwork which were specifically made for my sweetie.  I am not being paid for them other than to get the exposure of having them located in a public venue and I don't expect that I will be repaid for my time or efforts.  We had discussed the artwork some before I began, but I had not sketched it out and apparently had not been clear enough about my intentions for the work.  He picked out the colors, which I augmented with some complementary pigments.  

Just because it is dark, doesn't make it ugly.
I was only about a third of the way done with the work when he visited my studio unannounced and before I had the chance to cover the work.  Though he swears otherwise, the look on his face clearly announced that he did not like my artwork.  Shocking!  I was unprepared for this eventuality as he is normally my biggest champion and supporter.  As it turns out, his expectation of what the artwork would look like and the reality were vastly different.  He claims he likes it but has to "get used to it" (it being the enormous difference between his expectation and the artwork itself.)  I am continuing to work on the pieces--with a far greater strain on my creative energy than I've probably ever worked on before and an impossibly critical inner voice that views every brush stroke.  I cannot say that the works will be good or that I will even like them.  The joy and energy which I carried to begin with has been severely squelched and I am now just "trying to finish."

The situation hurt me.  It left me a bit raw.  And questioning myself, my skills, and (as dramatic as it sounds) my calling as an artist.  The reverberations are calling me to take several actions:

1.  To build a thicker skin--especially when it comes to loved ones viewing my art and what value I place on their opinion over the value I place on my own artwork.
2.  To be certain that in future projects I am more clear as to the end result expectations and vision.
3.  To review my own artwork with a more critical eye and see what and where I can improve.
4.  To review my own artwork and see what and where I have been successful and to be sure that I acknowledge to myself the value of all I've learned and accomplished.
5.  To review where I'm going with my art and make revisions so that I continue to do what makes my heart sing--since it is when my heart is singing that I do my "best" work.
6.  To find a way to release the sting of criticisms from anyone and not discount my self or the value of my work.

In the meantime, I've got to get back out there and paint.  More coming soon on thick skins.  Got a great way to deal with criticism?  Would love for others to share ideas. 

(c) 2013 SZing.  All photos and text protected by copyright.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy Do-Over

I love New Year's and Resolutions.  I usually have several pages worth under a variety of headings including Art & Writing, Spirituality, Relationships, Completing Incompletions, Health, Wealth....among others.  I don't always hit the mark and complete every single resolution under those topics, but I do almost always make progress in each area.

Not every hit is a bullseye.  Practice gets the mark.  

What I really love about Resolutions is that once I have missed the mark, I am given cart blanche to a "do over."  It is a chance to renew my commitments to activities or behaviors that I've found helpful in the past.  It is a chance to renew my vigor and energy around specific areas of my life.  It is a way to reconnect when I think or feel I've somehow lost my connection.

I know that New Year's is a very arbitrary "setting" for beginning resolutions--and in fact, I tend to renew my resolutions at least quarterly and definitely review my progress at the end of each month so I can keep on track with creating the life I want and also the person I am and want to continue to improve upon.

Regular attention WILL result in improvements and change.  Love the change.

I've always been a "lister" so resolution making is fun.  And I love imagining not only the outcomes of my goals but the road to getting there...like learning to golf and getting back to working out regularly.  Or completing several art gallery shows in a year accompanied by magazine articles.

Or writing my blog three times a week.  Honestly, sometimes I wonder at those who do it every day.  But then I realize a lot of them only write one or two sentences or paragraphs and add links or photos.  Perhaps I shall strive to take a page from their books and just keep things light more often.

With that in mind, if you haven't been or are not a resolutions or goal setter...here is a terrific link for goal setting with some suggestions.  If it all seems like too much...try just doing a short list of the major three things you want to improve in your life. And then work on each a little every day.  If you want to keep track of your goals and resolutions by phone, here are some suggestions for apps.

And just for those of you who might not be sure, you can find the definition of resolution here.  Besides actually following through every day, the most important things to do when creating your resolutions are:
1.  Write them in a positive way i.e., not "quit smoking" but "be smoke free!" and
2.  Write them down and view them regularly.

Happy Do-Over to you.